The youth of our communities need not feel a lack for role models—they have only to look to two of our Community Board 5's recently acquired members, Glendale's Chris Landano, and Timothy Preston Higgins, Jr. of Middle Village. Both young men hold leadership potential for our communities' future and clearly have their own unique personalities and talents. And, although they have different backgrounds and ideas—there are some common threads to their biographies—both have been mentored and both believe in volunteering and speaking out on important issues facing their communities.
Chris Landano, appointed to the Board in 1997, became active in community affairs more than six years ago when he began working for the Catalpa YMCA in Ridgewood. He currently trains teenagers to become youth counsellors who are responsible for working with younger children under the Y's auspices. Chris's multi-faceted job includes first aid, conflict resolution and working with parents. Optimistic about the Y's future in this area, he advised that it would be expanding its programs to include baseball, basketball, and hockey, among other sports.
Through his job with the Y, Landano was instrumental for coordinating this year's Night out on Crime with 104 Precinct Officers Eddie Alber and Erin Leahy. Commenting on the success of the program with its food, entertainment, and educational components, and which was attended by over 1200 community residents of all ages, Landano, who has committed to working on this event in the future, promised that next year it will be twice as big.
As if he is not busy enough with his responsibilities with the YMCA, Landano, through the Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corp. (GVAC), is also taking an Emergency Medical Technician course at the Manhattan's Downtown Medical Center to learn first aid and pre-hospital care.
He also offers his time and energy to the Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP). Through this voluntary organization, he has been part of the Glendale patrol and has worked on graffiti clean-ups.
Landano, who turned twenty-one this year, and who has always made his home in the Ridgewood-Glendale area, credits Glendale Board member and civic veteran Vito Maranzano for mentoring him in community affairs.
As for the youth of our communities, Landano encourages more people to become involved in Community Board 5. He contends that older people keep making decisions for younger people. He suggests that Board 5, where he currently serves on its Youth Services Committee, conduct more outreach to young people to motivate them toward involvement in their community.
A believer in volunteerism
An ardent believer in volunteerism, Landano proposes that young people offer their services to organizations such as G-COP and GVAC to keep the community together. In this connection, he would also like to see the formation of a Youth Civilian Observation Patrol, such as the one currently instituted in Astoria through the 114th Precinct.
Landano is also critical of the taking away of recreational spaces in our school yards in view of the temporarily trailer classrooms on site at PS 91, PS 88 and PS 71 as an imposition on much needed youth activities. He proposes that there is a need for additional youth centers in every community in Board 5 and promises to work toward that goal.
With his limitless energy and dedication to improving life for young people in our communities, Landano's prospects for success in these endeavors are strong.
Timothy Preston Higgins, Jr. may have been born with politics in his blood. This twenty year old Community Board member, who makes his home, along with his mother and three younger sisters in Middle Village, has already acquired a great deal of experience in the political arena.
Higgins is impressively named after his father's close friend, an executive assistant district attorney in Queens, who offered him suggestions as to how to pursue employment in public service.
A former graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School and currently entering his third year at Manhattan's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Higgins hopes to attend St. John's University Law School as part of his pursuit of a career in government and possibly, elected office.
This pursuit has also involved a double-semester internship in the district office of City Councilman Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) who at age twenty-five, was one of the youngest members ever elected to the New York City Council. For Higgins, Gifford Miller was a source of inspiration with his excellent abilities in public speaking, his legislative drafting, and his ability to relate to the public.
Currently employed as District Representative at Congressman Tom Manton's (D-Queens) office, Higgins handles complaints involving social security, which he notes can be very complicated, as well as labor issues and consumer problems. His involvement in campaign work has included collecting petitions, organizing constituent support, and distributing literature. In view of Manton's recently announced plans for retirement from the House of Representatives, Higgins hopes to work for the Congressman's successor.
Making a difference in the community
It was Higgins' own decision to contact the Borough Presidents office to seek membership on Board 5 so that he could gain experience in local government. Appointed in April of this year, Higgins views the Community Board as a means for making a difference in the community.
With his background on social issues, Higgins is interested in serving on the Board's Health and Human Services Committee. He is currently under consideration to chair its Library Services Committee as well.
As if he doesn't have enough on his plate, Higgins, in keeping with his Irish heritage, also attends monthly meeting of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Having observed meetings of other Queens Community Boards, Higgins asserts that Board 5 is lively and that its members are outspoken on a number of issues. However, he would prefer that the Board remain focused on issues rather than personal attacks, which don't solve anything.
As for advice to young people, Higgins states that it's important for young people to remember that they are given consideration as individuals rather than as a collective whole. He believes it would be worthwhile for them to volunteer to work on some of the Board's committees and to speak out at its public forum sessions. And, he is willing to be a mentor to someone so that they, too, can follow a path toward community service.